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Lighting “the Last Mile”: Is Solar the Solution?

As various initiatives try to bring electricity to the globe’s most remote places (by way of solar energy), profitability looks to be blocking the light they bring. ISTANBUL, Turkey — Salinee Tavaranan has a quite determined face when she talks about solar energy and inclusive business. Nothing surprising, though—the entrepreneurial Thai woman is committed to both. She runs a local business installing solar panels in the off-grid villages of a mountainous area near the Myanmar-Thailand border. It’s one of the many remote rural places, still untouched by electricity, that compose “the last mile.”

SunSawang, her company, used to be a nongovernmental organization that aimed to implement and repair solar systems the Thai government bought in 2004 for the remote countryside.